Waimate is home to one of New Zealand’s largest pieces of street art, on the landmark Waimate Grain Silos. Two good mates - Barry Sadler, of Transport Waimate Ltd, which owns the silos, and Waimate artist Bill Scott collaborated on the project to decorate the silos with murals celebrating the town’s past.
Resene Paint generously donated the paint to kick the project off. The Sadler family and Bill hope the murals will add to the pride locals have in their district, and provide another reason for visitors to make the journey off the beaten track to Waimate.
The silos were built by hand in 1920 and were the first of their kind in the country. Grain silos of this height - 36m - and design are unusual, and possibly unique in New Zealand.
The silos were the brainchild of Robert Nicol, who who emigrated from Scotland to Dunedin in the 1870s, opened a flour mill at Naseby, and then moved to Waimate where he set up a flour mill in 1891. He learned about the Canadian technique of storing grain in silos; and when he wanted to expand production of the flour mill, he persuaded local farmers to invest in a company to build the silos for extra wheat storage.
The silos were opened by Prime Minister Bill Massey on February 12, 1921. Gas engines powered the plant using Waihao Forks coal.
Unfortunately the grain did not keep well. It’s believed that inexperience led to the silos being used too soon. The solid concrete base, almost two metres thick, would have taken up to two years to dry completely.
The venture was deemed a failure and the buildings and land were sold at a loss. The silos were abandoned, but resurrected for use in the 1960s.
Transport Waimate have set up a walkway around the edge of their yard. Enter via Queen Street, it’s clearly marked with signage. There’s also a viewing platform on Dash Street.
We ask that everyone respects that Transport Waimate Ltd is an industrial work site and strictly off limits. They operate a business with big trucks and machinery, so please keep out of their yards.
For media coverage of the silos click here.
The stories behind the legends
The District is known for its striking silo art, but it’s also home to some other amazing public art. We’re going to profile it here. Please keep checking back.
The Bushman Sculpture
Artist Donald Paterson took a year to sculpt him. He's constructed of marble-based filler, resin-coated clothing and bronze hands, head and hat. The sculpture is a nod to our early saw milling heritage.
The bushman is a hit on Instagram, making an appearance in countless selfies.
You'll find him quietly observing the passing traffic on Queen Street near the Council buildings.
Waihao Downs School Mural
The colourful mural running along the Waihao Downs Tennis Club wall is the finishing touch of the recently resurfaced Waihao Downs Tennis Club Courts project. Visible on Stage Highway 82 at Waihao Downs School.
The mural reflects the historical and environmental history of the Waihao River plays as it runs through the Waihao Downs district.
The eels celebrate the role eels played our local Waitaha iwi history. The swirling water is to remind us to look after our local environment. The children reflect the students from Waihao Downs School and its 5C school values of growing our students to become Curious, Conscientious, Confident, Considerate and good Communicators.
Our local artist Ajhonai dDree designed and painted the stunning mural with the help of her family members, and some of our keen school students.
The mural was funded in conjunction with the Waihao Downs Tennis Club, Waihao Downs School and the NZ Creative Communities Grant.
Sean Duffell Murals at Waimate High School
Sean Duffell was contracted by the school to paint the locker containers and key parts of the school.
Sean is a graphic artist and illustrator and said that he was first inspired to try aerosol painting by the street art in Melbourne. His profession has taken him all over New Zealand, across Asia and Australia.
During the two weeks Sean was at Waimate High School the containers that house the lockers took on a life of their own with fantastic scenes and characters. Art work murals were also painted on the canteen and around the beach volleyball area.
Small groups of junior students thoroughly enjoyed participating in workshops with Sean. They provided ideas for what they wanted in the murals and also had a hand in creating some of them. Sean said that “the students have been overwhelmingly enthusiastic and receptive during the workshops and have consistently surprised me with their ideas and questions. The students have taken ownership of the murals we have created.”
The High School welcomes members of the community to come and see these murals for themselves.
Stella Chamberlain Mural
Another remarkable local has been immortalised by Transport Waimate and artist Bill Scott.
At the base of the silos a new mural has popped up, this time it's a tribute to Stella Chamberlain. Stella spent a good 30+ years washing the Waimate senior rugby jerseys. The Chamberlain family were dedicated members of the club; playing, coaching, supporting.....and making them look presentable.
Stella was the first women to receive a life membership of the Waimate Rugby Club in honour of all her years of work. A beautiful tribute to a much loved local.